Listen: Claire Rogers in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
These are the faces of three children who have spent their entire lives detained on Nauru. Their families want Australians to know that children (119 in total) are still trapped on the island. As part of the #Kids Off Nauru campaign, they consented to the photos being available for the nation to see. (Their names have been changed.)
“There are children here suffering. We don’t know what our future holds. Our children are like any other little children around the world – but they are not allowed to be free.” parent on Nauru.
George likes to play cars
George, 2 years old (wearing a monster T shirt) He likes to play with his toy car and he loves to write. He was born in Nauru – the family have been on the island for 5 years. His mother says she wishes that nobody be put into the situation where they have no idea what their future holds. “He doesn’t talk yet, but he loves to write. I think he is going to be a writer, like his father.”
Roze is a sociable child
Roze, 2 years old (wearing a pink top) She is a sociable little girl and likes to play outside, but as discussed previously on Open House, the harsh rocky surrounds and roaming wild dogs mean there is no place for children to play in Nauru. She loves reading her picture books and writing. Her family has been in Nauru for five years, so Roze has spent her entire life on the island. (Although she was born in PNG) They say that they would not wish on their worst enemies to see their own child growing up in island detention.
Melanie pretends to be a doctor
Melanie, 3 (wearing a green top) Melanie likes to play with Lego, and she likes to cook and paint. Her family have been on the island for five years. “It is so difficult to live in Nauru. I wish on nobody that they are stuck here like us.” Her mum said that every day Melanie pretends to be a doctor when she plays.
NGOs set deadline to get Kids Off Nauru
The photographs of the children were released last week at the launch of the #KidsOffNauru Coalition. More than 80 organisations are involved in the coalition. They have set a 3-month deadline for Australia’s political leaders to remove all children and their families currently being held on Nauru.
The CEO of World Vision, Claire Rogers told Open House the #KidsOffNauru Coalition made up of humanitarian, refugee, church and human rights organisations who want to see the 119 children currently on Nauru released by Universal Children’s Day, November 20, at the latest.
Narau is size of Melbourne airport
“It is clear that indefinite detention is daily causing real and serious harm to these children,” Ms Rogers says. “As agencies charged with protecting children’s rights we are inviting all Australians who care about children to join us in demanding these kids be released.”
Ms Rogers sys that the plight of the children on Nauru has largely been hidden from ordinary Australians’ eyes as they languish on an island the same size as Melbourne Airport.
“Many of them have lived for years in tents, they have been separated from close family members and have no safe place to play or access to acceptable medical care. And no hope.”
A call for compassion
She said the coalition was calling for common sense, compassion and leadership from the nation’s leaders.
“These children have been forced to see and endure things that no child should ever see. They should have the chance to rebuild their lives in peace and safety,” she says.
“The families are called by their boat numbers so often they start to refer to themselves that way” says Claire Rogers.
World Vision calls for the Australian Parliament to immediately evacuate the children and their families from Nauru and bring them to Australia or a third country that will welcome them.
“The clock is ticking. This harmful, secretive and dysfunctional system of indefinite detention must end,” Ms Rogers says.
Locking up children never the answer
Australia should invest in humane solutions that both reduced deaths at sea and eliminated abuse.
“One should not come at the expense of the other. The world’s refugee crisis is a complex problem. Locking up children is never the answer,” she says.
World Vision Australia believes no person of any age should be forced to suffer through indefinite detention. The #Kids Off Nauru coalition have extensive information and resources on their website www.kidsoffnauru.com
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